Gentrification Scholar Weighs In

RECEIVED Fri., Feb. 23, 2024

This is in response to the article "Austin at Large: Lowrider Knows Every Street," [News, April 2, 2021.] In particular, it is in response to the writer's last paragraph as they critique Peter Holley's statements on displacement and gentrification, arguing that these characterizations are overblown. However, I argue that this is a wrong and dangerous assumption to make that a) displacement is not happening and b) it is everywhere else so why should we care? As a scholar on gentrification, many people are doing great work on how we can expand our understanding of gentrification as a process. We should not think of gentrification as only physical displacement or an increase in ground rent. Yes, these are hallmarks of gentrification first proposed by Neil Smith, but scholars now see gentrification beyond this lens. Gentrification can also be social displacement (i.e., can original inhabitants practice social and cultural traditions, or are these threatened by the gentry class?), labor market shifts (is the labor market in the area attracting different people?), the shifting of aesthetics (what kinds of food, drinks, services, etc. are being brought in to attract affluent consumers?), bike lanes, etc. Having the view that for gentrification to occur there must be displacement renders other processes of gentrification invisible. When we include these more nuanced understandings of gentrification, places like East Cesar Chavez are at a much larger threat than previously understood – this is why we should care.
Colt Pierce
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle